filter by topic »

Patriotic and Nationalist Opposition During Communism

Back to modules »
The term "East European opposition," as it was used by the Western press during the Cold War, was a blanket term which covered over a great diversity of special interests and agendas, as well as different political, cultural, and religious motivations for seeking autonomy from the socialist state. Sometimes people were drawn into an oppositional stance purely because of belonging to a minority group within a larger, ethno-national state. In other cases it was a quest to define the nation in different terms than those proscribed by the socialist regime, reviving earlier patriotic narratives that were considered politically unpalatable to Soviet-style ideology. Whether formed due to irredentist, patriotic, or nationalist motive, these groups have attracted new scholarly interest lately, because of their legacy and impact in the postsocialist transition (the most extreme case being the wars in the former Yugoslavia), as well as the recent resurgence of nationalist populist movements in the region. In this module, students will explore case studies of minority or national claims for representation, which are a key part of the larger mosaic of Cold War opposition movements.




  • Zubak, M. (n.d.). The Yugoslav youth press (1968-1980) : student movements, subcultures and communist alternative media. Budapest : Central European University, 2013.
  • Verdery, K. (c1991.). National ideology under socialism : identity and cultural politics in Ceauşescu’s Romania /. Berkeley : University of California Press,.
  • Joppke, C. (1995). Intellectuals, nationalism, and the exit from Communism: The case of East Germany. Comparative Studies in Society & History, 37(2), 213. Retrieved from
  • Rupnik, J. (2007). From Democracy Fatigue to Populist Backlash. Journal of Democracy, 18(4), 17–25. Retrieved from http://undefined/article/223242
  • Kowalewski, D. (1979). Dissent in the Baltic Republics: Characteristics and Consequences. Journal of Baltic Studies, 10(4), 309–319.

Featured Items from COURAGE Registry (selection)

Related Collections from COURAGE Registry (selection)

Further Sources


In-class or short-term assignments
1) Create a timeline of when the different patriotic or nationalist movements recorded in the case studies came to public attention. Do these eruptions correspond to any other major political events in Eastern Europe that you have learned about?

2) Identify the cases where a minority population was created due to a change of border which isolated the pocket outside of the original homeland. These national/patriotic movements have an irredentist aspect, meaning that they include a desire to redraw borders and become a part of a majority culture again. For each case, research the historic event that led to the border shifting.

3) Many of the featured items in the list focus on individuals who were represented a nationalist/patriotic point of view, but the members of the "Croatian Spring" movement stand out as they were persecuted by Tito's regime as a group. Find the members of the Croatian Spring in this list, and using external resources identify any more high-profile participants. Did any play a major role in Croatian politics at a later time?
Offsite, longer-term assignments
(Short essay) Choose one of the movements represented and research the political changes that occurred in that country after 1989. Did any members of your chosen movement become famous politicians? If there is a minority population represented, did they achieve greater recognition and representation after 1989? Do you see any impact or legacy of these movements today? How is this type of nationalism or patriotism different from that which you see in your home country?


    You must be logged in to read and post comments!